PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Review
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3
I’m not much of a ‘party gamer’. That is, I really don’t normally play games that rely on a party atmosphere to be truly great. I enjoy a good multiplayer, and even tons of fighting games, but give me a choice of Mortal Kombat or Mario Party, and I’ll drop the plumbers for some good, old-fashioned carnage every time. For our website’s Post-Apocalyptic Christmas Bash, however, I had to think outside of the box for a ‘team-building’ exercise. By team-building, I mean an all-out, trash-talking free-for-all amongst the editing and writing staff. For this, I decided that perhaps we should give PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale a real test and see if it could stand up against the wide variety of gamers present in the room.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a cross-over fighting game for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. The premise is pretty simple; up to four players take each other on in two-dimensional combat in a free-for-all match. The match ends when a player obtains the prescribed number of kills or if the clock runs out. Much like how Super Smash Bros. Brawl incorporates a large number of Nintendo-specific characters along with some third-party notables, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale has a large roster of first-party characters to select from as well as some faces from other games you’ll probably know. Sony franchise favorites such as Sackboy, Nathan Drake, and PaRappa the Rapper jump into the battle arena with Raiden from Metal Gear Rising, Big Daddy from Bioshock, and more.
Gameplay is relatively straightforward and allows gamers of all skill levels to be effective without having to learn overly-complicated button combinations; rather, each face button represents a type of action, while pressing the D-pad in a specific direction determines type of attack that will be launched. For example, Nathan Drake’s attacks include a variety of firearms that can be used by pressing the Triangle button, with his pistol being the default. Triangle and Down will make Nathan use a mini-gun instead, whereas Triangle and Up will have him break out a grenade launcher to use against his foes. Performing these small combos in the air will often result in different attacks as well. The simplicity of these button combinations effectively levels the playing field between the traditional button-masher and the highly skilled combo-maker.
Attacking your enemy not only deals damage to your opponent, but adds to your character’s Super bar as well. This bar, once filled, raises your Super Ability (your special attack) one level, for up to a total of three levels – each level unlocking a more powerful attack than the previous. These attacks, if they hit an opponent, often wind up in immediate death and a respawn countdown for the unlucky target. The trick, of course, is figuring out when to unleash your Super Attack. A Level 2 or 3 Super Ability often lasts longer and can be unleashed against multiple enemies, but the hard part is getting to the point where you can use those attacks. A Level 1 attack may not last long or allow you to wipe up the entire board, but is a good, quick way to add a kill to your tally.
Gamers play with three of their friends online or locally to battle each other with 20 different characters in 14 arenas in the game. Each level consists of a mash-up of themes from different Sony titles and third-party games. For example, one level starts out in a LittleBigPlanet theme complete with a Poppit moving around while different objects appear, changing the landscape with additional platforms and obstructions. After a while, the background changes to the trivia game Buzz!, with the announcer asking different character-related trivia. Players must then fight to stay on a platform representing the correct answer, while attempting to keep their opponents off for an additional boost. Other levels feature similar mash-ups that are capable of interacting with the battlefield in different ways such as a Metal Gear Ray launching attacks on the entire group in the midst of the battle.
If you feel like going solo, there’s also a single-player mode that features a mini-storyline for each selectable character. The campaign is only about six or seven rounds per character, with a fairly loose story depicting how each one of the contenders was drawn to the mysterious arena by none other than the Polygon Man, the original PlayStation mascot who was tossed by boss Ken Kutaragi himself many years ago. The story doesn’t really tell why Polygon Man is drawing these gaming greats to battle, but I suspect that it has something to do with PaRappa getting his own video game instead of the Polygon Man. Furthermore, while the single-player might be a good warm up for online play, it’s very obvious that the heart and soul of the game was designed around the multiplayer experience as there’s no real incentive for going solo and it can easily be passed over.
One cool battle that takes place is a rival battle about halfway through the single-player mode. For instance, if you’re playing as Ratchet and Clank, you’ll have a battle with Daxter and Jax. Treasure hunter and thief Nathan Drake will be pitted against Sly Cooper. Each character has a rival that they will battle, and while it doesn’t add anything to the story, it is kind of fun to experience.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale features some gorgeous graphics and fantastic level design, all of which draws heavily on the influences of the games that the characters hail from. Even on the PlayStation Vita, the game is an exact replica of its console counterpart, which it is able to cross-play with. Gameplay is exceptionally smooth, even with so much that can go on all at once in the game.
The sound, too, is quite remarkable, with many of the characters featuring their original voice actors either using entirely new lines of dialogue, or bits of dialogue captured from their original installments. The game takes full advantage of a 5.1 surround system as well, utilizing the full range for both the back and foreground action in game. The soundtrack is quite wicked, especially the intro song, which was written by French House/Pop writer, Madeon.
While technically solid all around (save for the single-player mode) as an online multiplayer game, PS All-Stars really hits its stride in a party setting. Having 10-12 people in an entertainment room together to cheer on and/or trash talk the combatants while they play, getting ready for their own turns, and playing on one large, single-screen head-to-head is just pure and unadulterated fun to be had for hours on end. On your own, online, or in a group, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a great gaming experience to be had by players of any kind.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale receives a 4.75/5.0.
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